Biotech Updates

Wheat and Barley Diseases Cost Australia Almost $1.2 B Annually

October 2, 2009

Reports published by the Australian Grain Research and Development Commission (GRDC) recently put the annual cost of cereal diseases in the country at an estimated $1.165 billion (USD 1.45 billion). According to the reports, wheat diseases cost Australia some $913 million every year, or 19.5 per cent of the average annual value of the wheat crop over the past decade. Top wheat diseases in the country include the stripe rust, yellow spot, cereal cyst nematode, stem rust and crown rot.

Diseases of barley, on the other hand, are estimated to cause an annual loss of $252 million, or $66.49 per hectare, to the Australian barley industry. Five diseases dominate these losses: net blotch-spot form ($43 million), powdery mildew ($39 million), cereal cyst nematode ($61 million), Pratylenchus neglectus and leaf rust.

The reports, authored by Gordon Murray and John Brennan, feature the first studies on the economic impact of cereal diseases since 1998.

In a press release, GRDC chair James Clark noted that the "awareness of those costs will allow decision-makers to allocate the research and development resources to most effective use, while farmers will also be in a position to make better-informed choices about the type and levels of controls to apply in their district." The report outlines the differences between potential and present losses and reflects the value of current control measures.

Download the reports at and